WASHINGTON (November 15, 1999) Archbishop Theodore McCarrick , Chairman of the International Policy Committee of the United States Catholic Conference, urged Congress to act today to jump start the new, more generous debt relief program approved at the G-7 Summit in Cologne last June.
"This is a critical moment," said Archbishop McCarrick. "When this session of Congress ends this week or next, the Jubilee year will be almost upon us. We cannot let the new millennium begin without offering hope to millions of poor people in some of the world's most impoverished countries that the crushing burden of external debt will soon be relieved."
Archbishop McCarrick said, "I am encouraged by progress so far in the negotiations between the Congress and the Administration on debt relief." He noted that "the House has approved an important amount for bilateral debt relief and appears to be favorably disposed to approving gold revaluation and other action needed to enable the IMF to participate in the Cologne Initiative."
"It is essential," according to the Archbishop, "to firm up the arrangements for IMF participation."
Archbishop McCarrick emphasized that it was also important to provide "at least some amount of initial funding" to the "HIPC Trust Fund," administered by the World Bank.
The Cologne Initiative is designed as a comprehensive, integrated program of debt relief, and the HIPC Trust Fund provides the resources which enable regional development banks and other smaller multilateral institutions to participate. It requires each major creditor country to provide its fair share of necessary resources for the Fund. The United States is the only G-7 country which has not yet committed any financial support to it.
"If the U.S. is unwilling to demonstrate its support for the Trust Fund and IMF participation in the Cologne Initiative," said Archbishop McCarrick, "it will seriously delay and may even jeopardize the success of the whole Cologne program."